Hennepin Healthcare takes a pulse of the pandemic

COVID-19’s rapid arrival in Minnesota in March 2020 created myriad changes across the community – and a snapshot of that impact is now available in a report from Hennepin Healthcare.  

A collaboration for quality improvement between Hennepin Healthcare and Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute (HHRI) emerged to design and collect a phone-based survey between May 11 and June 12, 2020.

“This survey, in the midst of a novel pandemic, offers us a unique, real-time view of what our community was experiencing,” explains Kate Diaz Vickery, MD, MSc, Co-Director of the Health, Homelessness and Criminal Justice Lab at HHRI. “Our goal was to assess the needs of our primary care patients – especially those at highest risk of poor outcomes – and generate discussion about addressing concerns.” 

“We believe that this report shares the ‘pulse’ of the community during a time of uncertainty that will lead to positive work at both ends: the care for COVID and Basic Needs at the same time, as this is, in reality, a syndemic: two pandemics at one: the viral and the health inequities,”  said Maria Veronica Svetaz, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Aqui Para Ti/Here For You, an Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative/MDH Grantee, who was also on the project’s committee.

Nearly 400 adult primary care patients reflected on their experiences with the arrival of COVID-19 and its resulting social and economic impacts.

Key findings include:

  • 35% of respondents worried about affording food. Spanish speaking (58%) and Black patients (42%) were disproportionately food insecure
  • 14% reported being homeless at the time of the survey and 32% were worried about being able to pay their rent/mortgage or other housing costs. Non-English speakers were the most likely to report worry about paying housing costs, with 53% of Spanish speakers and 62% of Somali speakers reporting concerns.  
  • The majority of respondents reported access to internet-connected smartphones (89%) and email (81%). Patients varied in their access to an internet-connected computer (57%), and 1 in 4 expressed challenges paying their phone bill (26%).
  • Respondents were generally willing to use video visits (72%).  Qualitative feedback from patients indicated that many would need support to learn how to use necessary technologies. 

The entire report is available at www.hennepinhealthcare.org/basicneedssurvey.

The Fair at Hennepin Healthcare offers employees 12 days of socially distant fun

Since January, Hennepin Healthcare employees have been focused on COVID-19. From emergency planning to caring for many of the state’s sickest patients, it’s been an extremely busy year so far.   

Hennepin Healthcare has always been very involved in the Minnesota State Fair and when it was cancelled, a creative team planned 12 days of socially distant fun for their colleagues. There’s something for everyone – including Hennepin’s cookie jars, a quarantine photo contest, music, art, and other ways for employees to enjoy fair-themed activities during what would be the 2020 Minnesota State Fair.

Dr. David Hilden at the
Minnesota State Fair

“We’ve all been working so hard this year,” explains Dr. David Hilden, Vice President of Medical Affairs who is also serving as “Ambassador” of the Fair at Hennepin Healthcare. Many of us are missing our families and friends, are actually longing for some human contact, and are bummed out about missing our traditional end-of-summer ritual of the State Fair. Many of us haven’t seen one another for months, and many of us who have been on campus have been working around the clock caring for critically ill patients or supporting those who do. We really need a bit of frivolity to boost our spirits. And although I’ll miss standing on that WCCO radio porch doing live State Fair shows, I’m still really excited about our ‘virtual’ Great Hennepin Get-Together!”

Dr. Hilden and his co-Ambassador, Bernie the Rescue Dog, kicked off the festivities with a video that can be found along with a list of events at www.hennepinhealthcare.org/fair, where there’s also a photo scrapbook of Hennepin Healthcare memories from the Fair.

“We’re 7000 employees strong,” said Dr. Hilden. “We’re strong for each other and we’re strong for our patients and families. I really believe that. And even if we can’t walk the fairgrounds with our friends, we can still have fun as a Hennepin family. We’re all looking forward to celebrating a Minnesota tradition in our own safe, fun way.”